New York Fashions October 1877 – Part 1

From Harper’s Bazar ~ October 27, 1877

The fashionable modistes are returning from Paris and notwithstanding our desire, especially in these hard times, to tell of plain and economical styles, it is necessary to note these last Importations, among which are some of the richest goods ever brought to this country.  At one house, where room after room is filled with elegant things, the empress dress seems to be the leading feature.

This dress is the princesse dress with a difference, viz. it is not caught up in bouffant drapery, but hangs in graceful folds from the waist to the foot.  The front of the skirt is quite short enough to show the elaborately dressed foot, while the back forms a long, flat, square-cornered train.  There is a simple tabilier arranged in front, and long panels of trimming are on the sides.

The front is different from the back either in material or color.  The flounces are narrow and simple, often being merely pinked on the edges.  The waists are long, with seams beginning on the shoulders in most cases, though some of the newest dresses have side forms starting in the armholes, and omit the middle seam in the back.

The trimmings on the bust outline coaching jackets, or else they are plastrons or Breton vests.  The sleeves are either close enough for lace or linen cuffs to be worn outside of them, or else they flow open at the wrists, and often at the elbow.

The elaborate panels form pockets, and there are many ribbon bows, rosettes of folded silk, passementerie and beaded ornaments, and buttons that are as handsome almost as jewels. 

In this collection of Paris dresses clair de lune gray rivals the moss and olive tints for handsome wool dresses.  An empress dress of plain fine camel’s hair and silk of the same shade of clair de lune gray has the silk front extending from the throat down very low, where it is trimmed with fringe, and gathered up on the sides to form a long apron over-skirt, under which is shown the edge of a lower skirt trimmed with box-pleating alternately of camel’s hair and silk.  The empress back, entirely of camel’s hair, without drapery, combines with it two side gores, which really begin at the front of the neck, and slope away to the sides, just as the coaching jackets do.

A sailor scarf of the silk is knotted at the throat, and bands of silk trim the sides of the woolen skirt.  The woolen sleeves are tight, and have silk cuffs coming out at the wrist that represent inner sleeves.  English turned-over collar of wool on the outside, with silk lining.

For full-dress dinners the empress dress is made of light silk in front with dark brocaded silk for the back, or else the striped India silks.  One beautiful model has pale blue silk fronts with whit duchesse lace bows from throat to foot, while the sides and back are of striped soft twilled India silk of Holbein green and pale blue.  This change in dresses is said to be due to Worth, who desires to see the rich brocades fall in natural folds instead of being crushed and bunched up in paniers.  The change is a marked improvement, and these stately dresses are in far better taste than those lately worn.

And although the great majority of our readers may choose plainer dresses for their own use, they none the less will be glad to know the latest styles adopted by the leaders of fashion.